This article was last updated on January 26, 2022
How do you network? Are you a default coffee person?
Last Summer I surveyed my Idea Lemon audience the following question,
When you ask to meet someone for the first time (this could be a professional connection, a friendly encounter, or even a date) what do you typically suggest?
-Let’s Grab Coffee
-Let’s Grab A Drink
-Other (Lunch, tea, Let the person pick)
The poll results showed coffee coming back at 49%, followed by an alcoholic libation at 27%, and from reading through the “other” responses, everyone said either going to lunch or going to tea (instead of coffee), or letting the person pick drinks or coffee is their go-to move.
Me personally, for professional networking I’m a beer guy and I try to opt for an evening drink when the schedule allows. But when it doesn’t, I default to a daytime coffee (even though I don’t drink coffee).
Let me tell you a story now of a woman named Jeana Cohen, who changed my perception of introductory meetings.
Jeana is an entrepreneur and fitness instructor, her company is aSweat Life.
I first came across aSweat Life when I attended one of their monthly Sweatworking events in Chicago. It was a really fun time. Each month they pick a different type of exercise and studio, you pay $15 to reserve your spot, you meet people, get a legit goodie bag from their partner sponsors, and get a great sweat in.
Jeana and I said hi to each other during that workout session and that was about it.
A couple days later, I received her email newsletter, where she wrote a story about what she’s learned since quitting her job and going all in on aSweat Life. It was a really good read, and I decided I wanted to meet up and network with her to see how we can support each other’s businesses.
In my request, I defaulted to the standard “let’s get coffee”.
Here’s what Jeana responded with:
I was free to attend so I said absolutely, and I went and took her class.
It was one of the hardest, sweatiest, most endorphin-producing workouts I’ve ever endured in my life.
Let me bring this back to the original survey question. According to the results, everyone suggests to get coffee, drinks, or lunch.
Now compare that to Jeana, who pulls off what I now call the Jeana Meeting Method.
In the midst of doing medicine ball squats I thought to myself,
“This is incredible. I’m never going to forget this.”
See, there are plenty of fitness instructors out there. But Jeana is now the one who is memory burned because she’s the instructor who, instead of just grabbing coffee, had me take her class and busted my ass.
After class ended we had a great conversation for 20 minutes which, within one week, resulted in:
Me sharing her events with my Idea Lemon community (totally my choice—she did NOT ask me to).
Me referring people to check out aSweat Life. You should too.
Me referring Chicago Ideas Week, a prominent media outlet in Chicago, to write a feature post on her.
Her and one of her team members getting involved in a product we beta tested for Idea Lemon.
And 6 months later I had her as a guest on my podcast.
Let’s break down the Jeana Meeting Method, because there are a few things in play here. Here’s her email again:
This Networking Strategy Will Make You Instantly Memorable
Jeana accomplishes three things in this note:
1. She merges interests. Rather than have to carve out new time to meet with me, she works me into what she’s already doing.
2. She creates a barrier to entry. By asking me to take her class, she’ll know immediately if I say “no, that’s not for me”, that I’m probably not someone who is worth her time anyway. She cuts through the crap and makes sure that she’s only allowing high-quality interactions into her life because she knows her time is valuable.
3. She suggests something different, which ends up making her instantly memorable and stand out from the rest. You know what’s way better than those awkward first couple minutes when you meet someone for coffee and say pedantic things like, “Sooo where are you from”? Starting a conversation with, “Man–that was a GREAT sweat. You have to tell me how you got started with aSweat Life?”
It doesn’t have to be taking a fitness class. Think about the things you’re interested in, and how you can merge, create that barrier to entry to only allow high-quality interactions in, and become instantly memorable.
I’ve adopted this method since meeting Jeana, asking people who want to meet to come to take a yoga class with me or come to a workshop I teach, and it flat out makes for a better relationship.
When the chips are down, and everyone does the same old same old, what can you do to stand out from the rest?
You can be JUST another instructor/lawyer/designer/entrepreneur/marketer, OR you can be the person who is forever memorable because you did something different during your first meeting.
Next time, try the Jeana Meeting Method.
Photo credit: Unsplash.com